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Chef Benita McCoy Lyons -- Kushaw

Chef Benita McCoy Lyons

Kushaw- Squash Cheesecake Bars

Ingredients

* 9 low-fat graham crackers, (4 1/2 ounces)
* 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, (not quick-cooking or steel-cut)
* 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup sugar, divided
* 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 3 tablespoons nonfat milk
* 8 ounces nonfat cream cheese, at room temperature
* 8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, (Neufchâtel), at room temperature
* 1/2 cup kushaw squash puree
* 2 large eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray
2. Process graham crackers, oats, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 cup flour and butter in a food processor until finely ground. Add milk; pulse until completely moistened.
3. Transfer the graham cracker mixture to the prepared pan and evenly pat into the bottom. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, reduce oven temperature to 325°. Beat both cream cheeses and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy, scraping down the sides occasionally. Beat in squash puree until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Finally, beat in vanilla, cinnamon, salt and the remaining 3 tablespoons flour. Scrape the filling into the pan, spreading evenly over the crust.
5. Bake until set and the edges are light brown, about 35 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cutting into bars.

Tips & Notes

* You can Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
* To make your own squash puree, halve and seed one medium kushaw or butternut squash. Place, cut-side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 375°F oven until soft, about 50 minutes. Cool, then scrape out the flesh with a fork. Or simply use frozen (thawed) or canned squash puree.


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